–PM says many countries, including Pakistan, depend upon remittances sent by overseas workers
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday urged the international community to formulate a combined strategy to protect the most vulnerable segments of the society, especially labourers from the impacts of Covid-19.
Addressing the online ILO Global Summit on Covid-19 and the World of Work, Imran pointed out that many countries, including Pakistan, depend upon remittances sent by overseas workers.
“Though the host countries are also faced with many problems owing to the coronavirus, we need to convince them to be more sympathetic to these labourers,” he added.
Imran emphasised that the lockdown has hit these labourers the most.
“The future is very uncertain, as we do not know how long the economy will take to recover from the impacts of the pandemic,” he stated, adding that till vaccines are found the world community will need to share their experiences and exchange ideas to protect the vulnerable groups.
Sharing the initial lockdown experience of Pakistan, the premier said it rendered daily-wage earners and labourers unemployed.
“Hence, we came up with the smart lockdown idea under which public gatherings were stopped, but we allowed other activities like reopening of construction and agriculture sectors,” he added.
Imran also shed light on the Ehsaas Programme under which the government is providing cash assistance to labourers after completing their registration process.
“It is the first time in Pakistan’s history that such huge money was disbursed in such a short space of time,” he said stressing that this saved the country from the worst effects of the lockdown.
“Never in the country’s history was so much money transferred to so many people in a short time,” he remarked. “This saved us from some of the worst aspects of the crisis. Unlike in India, where they imposed a curfew which pushed people into deeper poverty.”
The prime minister continued, “No one is sure when the coronavirus will end. We are all praying a vaccine comes out for the virus soon, but, meanwhile, uncertainty prevails.”
“The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the most affected by the virus and these employ the most number of labourers, which is why we need to come up with the idea to solve their issues,” he said.
Speaking about the overseas labourers, the prime minister said a collective strategy is needed to tell other countries to be sympathetic to these labourers. “We need some joint strategy on how we can ‘soften the impact’ on labourers across the world,” he said.
“We would love to share ideas with the world; we would love to know what other countries are doing. Pakistan will keep other countries updated on the situation and how we intend to move forward,” he said. “The exchange of ideas will, I’m sure, help us to solve our problems.”